Collection of religious art
The Vodnjan collection of religious art is unrivaled in Istria. It represents a summary of the artistic genius that manifested itself in these parts, the love for the aesthetic approach and the devotion of local people, as well as a glimpse into the life and events of the past centuries.
The collection contains a total of 730 works and objects covering the period from the 5th to the 19th century. In the first hall there are objects from early Christian basilicas. In the next hall there is a particularly valuable collection of murky glassware, precious metals and wood reliquaries(13th-16th century), one of which holds the thorn from the crown of Christ, another with fine miniatures of the apostles and the reliquary of St. Simon, the prophet, with a piece of cloth in which the Christ Child was wrapped up.
There is also a masterpiece of 15th century art – a Triptych of Paolo Veneziano, with the scenes of St. Leon Bembo’s life, from the lid of the sarcophagus holding his body. Even a century after his death his body remained completely preserved. In the third and fourth hall there are reliquaries, wooden statues, gilded retable from 17th century, sophisticated embroidery on the lavish fabrics of liturgical vestments.
Upstairs, where painter Gaetano Gresler lived and worked, (he moved to Vodnjan in 1818) there is a glass chest, with many interesting and beautiful objects: lace, jewelry, drawings of old graves, paintings and flags, rare old books like “Summa theologiae” from St. Thomas Aquinas (1586) and “Summa S. Antonini” (1571), as well as the oldest preserved book printed in Nürnberg in 1509. Particularly important are church registers, which include registers of births, deaths and marriages in Vodnjan, from 1559.